Croatian Apple Strudel For Dessert

When I lived and worked as a nanny for the Dubois family in France in 1979, I performed many of the routine cooking tasks, like baking bread and making yogurt from scratch.

On one special occasion, a few months after I arrived in the Loire Valley, I had the opportunity to prepare my mother’s Croatian apple strudel as a special dessert.

Are French Fries and French Toast French?

It is unclear where French fries originated. Both the French and Belgians have claimed ownership of the invention, which is no surprise given their close proximity to each other and the common language.  Belgian journalist Jo Gérard references the popular side dish in his family manuscript from 1781, stating that in the Meuse Valley (present-day Belgium), potatoes were often deep-fried. They had a custom “of fishing in the Meuse for small fish and frying, especially among the poor, but when the river was frozen and fishing became hazardous, they cut potatoes in the form of small fish and put them in a fryer…”

A Visit to the Université François Rabelais

In 1979, while I worked as an au pair for Dubois’ family at the Château de Montclair, I attended classes at the Université François Rabelais in the nearby town of Tours.

The Beloved Croque Monsieur

French food has always appealed to me. The sauces, the spices and the aromas draw me in like a pin to a magnet. As a young woman, living in France in 1979 and 1980, I had opportunities to sample many different dishes, but it was the croque monsieur I remember most fondly.

Famous Cafes in Paris

Boulangeries and Magasins de vin are essential in the life of many Parisians. So are les cafés. In certain parts of the city, every other shop appears to be a bakery, wine merchant or café.
 
It is a treat to wander down boulevards, admiring the window displays or inhaling the scrumptious smells wafting out of a café or bakery. And, as you stroll along, inevitably you will pass the quintessential French scene – a restaurant with outdoor tables, red awnings and colorful flowers.
 
Many of the cafes you pass in Paris are renowned. The Café Le Procope, founded in 1686 by Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli, a Sicilian Native of Palermo, became a popular meeting place for Molière and other literary types. Continuing this trend, Voltaire, Rousseau and others frequented the establishment. According to French Moments, “Benjamin Franklin, then Ambassador to France, worked on the U.S. Constitution at a table” inside Café Le Procope. Other cafes, such as Le Deux Magots and the Café de Flore became popular gathering places in the 1920’s by many intellectuals and literary types, including Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Hemingway and Picasso.

Farmers’ Markets in France

Most villages in France have a farmers’ market once a week during certain times of the year. These markets are often a mix of stands and stalls offering homemade items, cheeses or a full-range of produce straight from the farm. 

Exploring Paris On Foot

Are you planning a trip to “The City of Light”? Perhaps you have dreamed of strolls along famous Paris streets or through quaint Paris neighborhoods. In this remarkable city, each turn brings a new café, historical site or a fascinating store to explore. And what about those ornate bridges over the River Seine? Many of these bridges offer stellar views.

Andouillettes? No, Thank You

My trip to France in 1979 opened my eyes to a whole new world, especially with regard to French cooking. Raised in a humble family with very few extravagances, we rarely splurged on anything, including food. Madame Dubois, my patron at the Château de Montclair, and her mother, Madame Moulon, introduced me to some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. There were, however a few dishes I would rather forget.

“Le Petit Prince” Returns

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My husband and I recently moved to a smaller home in Arizona and this required lots of downsizing. As I rummaged through old boxes, sorting “keep” piles and “give away” piles, I stumbled across my copy of Le Petit Prince from my stay in France in 1980. My heart lurched as I picked up the well-used book, turned to the first page and discovered  an inscription — long forgotten — from my love interest in France. 

A Delectable Memory From 1979

My diary from 1979 recounts my adventures living and working as an au pair at the Château de Montclair, in France. Most of my diary entries revolved around my relationships with the family, but on occasion, I included recipes of favorite drinks or meals I shared with the family.